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Its a pyjama party! #stuckonyou

Last year we were lucky enough to get the chance to review a great lunchbox from Stuck on You. It has lasted the whole year of pack ups every day and our little girl has loved using it. Helped that her best friend ordered one too!:)So i was delighted to review another one of the company’s products this year. We went for a less school item and more a relaxed, duvet day  item and its safe to say that with my youngest it has been a real hit.

It is a sweet little cotton tee and pyjama shorts that arrived in perfect timing for when the temperatures started to go up and bedtimes were a little tricky in the heat. You can choose from different colours but my little girlie girl chose pink. The it comes to the very serious business of what to have as the motif on the t shirt. Be warned there are a LOT of options and so your little one could take quite a long time deciding!:)

My little girl was having a bit of a thing with Ice-creams lately..who can blame her? So i guessed that it might be a favourite with her. She calls them ‘lolly-ices’ which is a very scouse term that has taken us a good while to get used to. It adds a real personal touch, choosing the design and the font and gets them involved in choosing which is VERY important part of my daughter’s day. I haven’t had any influence over what she will wear for a long time!!;)

The top easily doubles as a regular tee shirt for the day and i even think you can get away withe the cute little cotton shorts in the day too! Id quite like a pair they looks so comfy!! Soft brushed cotton with a little tie to the waist, ideal if you still have a little one in pull ups at night.

It was love at first sight for our littlest girl. She gets a lot of hand-me-downs as the fourth girl and very rarely gets anything new. Which is fine and how it should likely be in a family with so many siblings. The best form of recycling. But occasionally its nice to have a treat and this little set was most assuredly that for her.

On these longer days of summer its lovely to be able to lounge around a bit more and take your time facing the day and she looks so comfy in these jammies. Though it does have to be said my daughter doesnt do an whole lot of ‘lounging’ at any time of the day! She is full throttle ahead most of the time. Looks like these jammies are well up for that job though!!

Shame they don’t do they in an adult size!!:)

 

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Senior school starter 2014

Our back to school this year has been a little bit different. Firstly there is the fact that my eldest son has now left primary school and is just about to start seniors and secondly there is the fact that we are soon to be moving to Australia and life will be a bit upside down for a while!!

But before that happens, September marches towards us and its time to start thinking back to school. I am keen on using second hand shops at schools and often a school will have a really good facility for picking up some spares. As my son is going to seniors it is a whole other uniform. The kind that means you have to go to one of those ‘special’ uniform shops that stocks all the various sports kits and lab coats and aprons that are required by the school. I have always wondered at whether it would be better to have the american style of non uniform as a secondary school uniform complete kit out probably costs in the region of £200 per child. My son’s school has three separate sports kits!! Im sure we didnt have more than one when we were at school!! I cant work out why the shorts that he wears for football can’t work for athletics??

But then if kids wear their own clothes then you have to buy more of them..maybe? I dont know. I do love the kids all kitted out smartly in their uniforms but its can be pretty steep and surely for some it is a real struggle.

So we ventured into a uniform shop last week. I was keen to not leave it till the end of the summer. Over the years we have noticed a few of the uniform stockist in the city having lengthy queues of bored kids and annoyed parents trying to squeeze in all their purchases into that last bank holiday weekend before the kids go back to school. So i was keen to not have that experience… So i dragged my very uninterested son into the local uniform outfitters, armed with a list of things to get and also some sage advice from other mums who already have boys at the school. Its good to get a heads up especially when it comes to stuff that might get rarely used and so isnt worth us spending out on.

Blazer first. The school has houses and so we have to go for a certain colour badge. Easy to do, the staff know the school well and so son was forced into one that i thought was fine. Yeah. looks good i said to him. Ah you need to have the jumper underneath i was told by shop assistant. So wool jumper and blazer (is this because schools cannot afford heating anymore?) Onto the numerous sports kits. Rugby. Football and athletics….the athletics kit looks like something from chariots of fire and my son actually cracked a smile while i giggled at him trying to get into it in the pint sized changing room! Then black and white shorts, tie, DT apron (did i want white or beige? Does anyone choose ANYTHING in beige!!), a few name bands and the rugby top. I can’t imagine my son playing rugby!!

It was all pretty painless and i think as we were there in the first week of august there were only a couple of other people in the shop.

As we walked out of the shop back to the car. My OH and the other kids were waiting inside the car, my son turned to me and asked me if going shopping for uniform had put me off going shopping for anything else. He was secretly hoping i think. But we had to go onwards and shop for shoes!!!

I try and get the kids shoes from good quality shops. With our school shoe bill being quite high I try and make sure that the kids can get at least a few terms out of their shoes. My son is now a scary size 5. Just one size more and I can wear his shoes! He is having such a growth spurt at the moment! He generally still goes for slip ons, its all about ease with him. But my girls like the more traditional T bar type shoes. Although my eldest daughter is keen on the ‘slip on’ type ballet pump. Which is great but she has a super narrow foot and so many of the shoes she tries on in generic sizes and widths are just too wide for her and fall off her feet. So we always find ourselves heading to Clarks as they do cater for such a range of width fittings.

The rest of our day was a family outing to Clarks, being measured on the cool little machines they use now and then a mammoth trying on session! Phew it is enough to test even the most ardent shopper! Shoes shopping done and then it was time for a treat in the form of a Krispy Kreme Donut for everyone.:)

It looks like we are getting all set for September!

 

 

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Evening sunshine #countrykids

We were lucky enough last weekend to house sit for some friends of ours who live a little bit out of the city into the country. It was a fun filled couple of days. They have a small army of baby chicks, chickens, guinea pigs and a seemingly absent cat (we think it was insulted by the dog and so took off for the weekend). The kids were in their element looking after the animals. I think they probably gave them a little bit too much care if you know what i mean:)

It was a beautiful evening and so we sat in the garden for our pizza supper while the dog drove himself mad staring at the guinea pigs!

The kids headed out onto the trampoline. We have a tramp in our garden but the sunshine never hits it the way it did out in the country. It was too gorgeous not to take some shots of and also really lovely to see my bigger kids just being kids and enjoying the outdoors.

Good for the soul.

Always.

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

August 2, 2014 - 10:36 pm

Coombemill - The house sitting sounds like a great way to bag yourselves a family holiday. Looks like the kids are loving their summer holiday play and I don’t blame you for capturing the moment as the evening sun shone through. Thank you for joining me for Country Kids.
Coombemill recently posted…Silent Sunday / Project 52My Profile

August 3, 2014 - 5:14 pm

Coombe Mill - Fiona - No ageism as far as trampolines are concerned (free for all in our garden). How lovely for the children to take care of the animals and enjoy dinner alfresco and have fun in the evening sun – idyllic. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.
Coombe Mill – Fiona recently posted…Silent Sunday / Project 52My Profile

August 4, 2014 - 4:31 pm

Sonia Constant - AWESOME photos :) As ever. Love the evening sunlight x

August 7, 2014 - 10:35 am

Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) - Lovely summer colors there! I think that whatever age you are when theres a trampoline you will always be a kid at heart =) #countrykids
Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) recently posted…RuinsMy Profile

Goodyear Driving Academy for young drivers.

I noticed a few months ago that Goodyear were looking for parents to review their new driving academy parent pack. It is essentially a way to introduce road safety awareness to kids as they approach the legal age to drive. As the mother of a son who is desperate to get behind the wheel I am really keen on this. They were asking for kids who were over 11 years old and might like to have a sample lesson at their driving academy. I wonder who i knew who would like to do that?;)

I was pretty sure that my son would love to have a go at driving. He is a firm car fan, loves to watch a bit of formula one with his dad and i know cannot wait till he can drive a car on the roads. So this new scheme seemed to be a really good fit!

 

The mission:

Goodyear is on a mission to teach children the importance of road safety in a bid to help lower young driver road accidents – it thinks we need to try to address the attitudes and behaviours which are at the root of the issue. Goodyear believes that currently too much emphasis can be put on young people passing their driving test rather than applying a true road safety approach learnt over time. The system of one theory test, one hazard perception test and one practical test is not enough.

Goodyear is passionate about ensuring young drivers have a thorough understanding of road safety via a graduated learning programmewhich can come from educating children from an early age , to allow them the freedom and enjoyment of safe driving once they are behind the wheel.

About the Goodyear Driving Academy

In 2011, Goodyear introduced its Driving Academy into schools across the UK. The Academy teaches children about the importance of road safety by placing a real emphasis on understanding the Highway Code. Using an online driving simulator, children learn more about the theory of driving within a classroom environment. Goodyear also provides dual controlled cars with advanced driving instructors for children to get a feel of what it is like to do some basic moves including clutch work, braking, cornering, reversing, mirrors and indication. This training takes place within a safe environment in the school playground.

 

Goodyear have also introduced a parent pack that you can get hold of very easily that has useful information and tools to start helping our drivers of the future prepare for a lifetime on the roads. It talks through rules for pedestrians, which as a family that walks to school a lot along some very busy roads this is something we have been very keen on with our kids. It suggests letting kids be the leader when they are needing to cross a road and asking them afterwards what they feel they did right and what they might have done differently. We have recently had to have lots of ‘dry runs’ of crossing the roads as my son is just about to start senior school and will be catching buses from time to time.

The booklet covers speed limits, driving conditions, car maintenance and then some more information on the driving lesson itself. We particuarly liked the way that each section gave an opportunity to involve the kids, either by suggesting a game or giving them a chance to draw some of their ideas. The kids loved testing mum and dad on speed limits!! The pages have a fun layout with cartoon pictures and easy to follow instructions. We have found all of the kids leafing through it and my son was particuarly interested in all the statistics!!

It also has an online integrated mini-theory test, the kind you get asked in the highway code! It has a little driving game as well that gives the kids a chance to put into action the lessons they have learnt. We had a lot of fun playing that and it was good to see how much info he was actually taking on board!

The driving lesson itself was a massive hit with my son. We arrived and checked it at the brightly coloured yellow bus and he was off very quickly with his instructor. The lesson lasted an hour and in that hour he was taught the basics. How to start and stop, gear control, clutch control, turn in the road and general handling. They were kind enough to allow us to travel for a bit in the backseat and video a little. I was worried about distracting him but they said he would be fine. What struck me about it was how easy it is for them to get used to how a car feels to drive without having to worry about road users. They had roads marked out on the tarmac but ultimately they are able to make mistakes without worrying about other drivers. Like drive over a signpost!!;)I was surprised just how much my son was doing on his own. I had anticipated that the instructor would be using the dual pedals a lot but he was very good at allowing the driver to try things and find out for themselves whether or not it would work. I noticed he did slow him up a couple of times though when the speed got to him a bit!:)

It was a really hot morning but im sure my son would have probably stayed in the car for much longer and i know, for him, the hour sailed by.

It has given us a chance to talk to our son about how he might prepare himself for the world of driving especially as he is desperate to get behind the wheel. We have even learnt a few things ourselves!

Here is a little video compilation from his lesson!

 

 

 

how are you going to get where you want to go? #Garmin

When I was asked to review the Garmin sat nav as a Tesco Compare car insurance safety tester earlier this month, I jumped at the chance. Up until my trip to Australia we haven’t really used satnavs that much. We rely on online maps on our phones to find places that we need to go. But being overseas and unable to use roaming services made me realise just how hard it would be to find my way around without using a good old fashioned mapand being on my own it would have been a real challenge to try and read a map and drive at the same time. I booked the satnav when I was booking my hire car and didn’t think any more of it.

That was until I arrived and was in a place completely strange to me and had no idea how to get to any of the addresses that I had to get to in my short visit to the country. That was when I realised how much I was going to rely on the satnav. The SatNav I used in Australia is exactly the same model as I was offered for a review on my return to the UK so I already knew how useful it was going to be!:)

The Garmin SatNav comes with a little suction cup holder that fixes onto your windscreen or wherever you want to place it really easily. It has a battery powered pack and also you can plug it into your cigarette lighter.

It has a really easy interface. Like I said, I hadnt used a SatNav before and so when I was in the car on my first morning in Sydney with an appointment to get to I had a sudden panic when I realised I hadn’t asked the lady in the car hire place to show me how to use it! But it was really straightforward, you can navigate to the home screen and then it’s easy to either search for an address. I quickly realised in Aus that postcodes are not as accurate as they are here. They seem to be for an entire area rather than a street!

You are guided through the screens allowing you to put in more specific details of your route if you need to. Then it will calculate your route and give you an estimated time of arrival (which is really helpful if you are working out how long you need) and then actually how far it is. You can have a choice of whether or not you wish to be guided by the voice or just follow on the screen. You appear as a little car at the start point of your route and it is really pretty accurate at keeping you on route. I found that unlike phone apps we have used. The satnav was really effective at getting you off at the right junction. Driving in a city that I had never been to before I found this really helpful. It didn’t just say ‘take the next left’ it actually would mention that you would be turning left and give you a succession of warnings as you approached your turning then once you were actually upon the junction you got quite a stern ‘turn left!’ The display is really easy to follow. I especially appreciated the fact that it showed me which lane I was in when I was coming up to huge intersections that could easily see me zipping off down the wrong one. My route was always highlighted and it was easy to see if I was going wrong.

There was only actually one time I got lost in Sydney and that was probably because I had met up with my oldest friend from school and we were chattering and I was not paying attention to the satnav. Although we did have a really good detour across the Sydney Harbour Bridge so it wasn’t too bad! But the SatNav was quick to try and get us back on route so we were alerted pretty quickly that we had gone wrong. It re-calculates your route if you go wrong and will give you an alternative way or ask you to turn when you can.

In settings you can find lots of options to personalise your routes and the way you use the SatNav. I didn’t realise you could do this in Australia and I wish I had of as I could have set it to avoid tolls. The main motorway around the city is a toll and you don’t even realise you are being charged as it clocks your number plate and bills you. Whilst it wasn’t a lot it would have been good to avoid it! You can also set it to warn you when you are coming up upon speed cameras. Always useful;)

The SatNav stores all the routes you have plugged in so when you strike in a familiar address it will give you a dropdown menu of previous routes and you can select the one you want. You can also set your home destination. One of the items that I used quite a bit in Sydney was the point of interest option in the menu. This was really useful when I found myself in an area of Sydney and was about ready for some lunch and had no idea where to go to get some! Plugged in cafes to the SatNav and I got a huge option of locations around where I was.

I really couldn’t have done without the SatNav in Australia. It helped me get so much of what I needed to do, done in a short period of time. Its navigation panel is easy and straightforward to use and I never once got sent down a farm track or to a dead end!

Back at home the destinations are a little different that im plugging in but it is still as effective and also gives the kids a bit of a kick to see where we are on the road. I am totally converted to SatNavs and anytime we need to get somewhere that we might not be sure of the route I will definitely be using it!

 

I was sent the SatNav for review, all opinions are my own

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